Freaky Kids Books

I’m no expert on children’s books. I know I read a lot growing up. I had to write one in high school. Even attempted to get it pubbed, actually – got myself a copy of Writer’s Market and everything. Of course this was in the days before the internet so trying to figure out what I was doing was a bit of a mess.

But I digress.

Since having children, it’s been kind of fun reconnecting with a lot of the old favorites – sometimes there’s just a great bittersweet sort of nostalgia about the stories. And maybe I’m odd, but occasionally a certain passage or a picture will trigger a memory and essentially transport me to an exact moment in time and I can *remember* sitting in a doctor’s office reading it, or huddling beneath the covers with a flashlight or what have you.

However, in reading them as an adult to my own kids, can I just ask what the hell was going on in the 70’s in the world of children’s publications? Seriously? There’s just this random batch of utterly weird stories from that time that are just…bizarre. Lucy is currently enamored with Johnny Lion’s Bad Day – and I vaguely remember it – it’s about a little lion who has a cold, which is all well and good. Typical kid stuff.

But reading it now, I admit I’m a little horrified because the story essentially revolves around his parents giving him this “red medicine”, him falling asleep and hallucinating (giant red rabbits coming to eat him?), waking up, getting another dose of meds, him hallucinating again, and so on. In the meantime, every time he wakes up, he begs his parents not to give him any more of the stuff, tells them that it’s giving him terrible dreams, and they just tell him “nonsense” and give him another dose.

Seriously? It’s really kind of twisted. At the end he dreams he’s a great big lion and goes in and scares the shit out of his parents.Which I guess is sort of his revenge, but I have to admit the overall concept kind of bugs me. Not the nightmare aspect of it so much, creepy as it is, but just that the kid seems so utterly helpless to stop what’s happening to him, and that the people who should listen to him the most don’t really seem to care.

Although maybe that’s the point and the whole thing is a parable about kids and parents and who takes care of who. There’s a small part of me that would like to think there’s something deeper going on here, anyway.

On the other hand, it *was* pubbed in 1970, so it’s probably just about the drugs.

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8 Responses to Freaky Kids Books

  1. Scopique says:

    Yeah, that does sound rather creepy. But then again…Captain Underpants?

    Looks like the drugs never went out of fashion…

  2. Simon says:

    Let's admit it… children's books are creepy sometimes. I mean, how's Margaret Wise Brown even get published? Just sayin'.

  3. mynfel says:

    Well, I actually like Goodnight Moon just fine, but the one with the mother rabbit chasing her little bunny? Yeah, it's a bit freaky, even tho it's really based on some sort of Irish fairy tale, I think. 

  4. Katiebabs says:

    you crack me up! LMAO

  5. KAK says:

    Rock abye, baby, in the tree top
    When the wind blows, the cradle will rock
    When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall
    Down will come baby, cradle and all

    Yep, the WTF-ery is not limited to the 70s

  6. mynfel says:

    Right and Ring Around the Rosy is about the Black Plague. (which makes sense to me – after all, if you're *living* in a world where people are dropping dead like that, you cope the best way you can.  

    Most fairy tales weren't really for kids – or at least at some sort of moral purpose behind them (Tho the Singing Bone always freaked me out), or the ones where the mothers accidentally eat their kids or serve them to their fathers on purpose. *shudders*

  7. mynfel says:

    Heh. I feel like I could have done more with this blog post, but honestly I think I'm just venting, because I've had to read about Johnny Lion and his druggie parents every night for the last two weeks now.

  8. Dovelily says:

    Happily I don't remember that story at all, but I might have nightmares tonight. Thanks bunches. 😉

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